Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Session Recap | Cape Point 2030: Finding Mamading

Our latest trip to 2030s Cape Town seemed to focus on fact finding and threat assessment.

The PCs:
Nathan Zero, fixer and CEO of start-up Charon Global (Shaun)
Vijay Ravinder Hazari, hacker and prowler (James) [missed this session]
Hydraulic Dave, morbidly obese techie/drone wrangler (Craig)
Anna Zone, psychotic teenage clone solo (Graham)
Natasha Black, gender-morphing solo/assassin (John)

It’s now Wednesday morning, and Nathan starts early taking calls from contacts Rufus ‘Japleg’ McLellan and Koshka Nine, providing more information on the elusive Mamading. Both report that the fixer has contacts at Marimba’s bar, down in the Bakoven nogo. Koshka had also looked into Rose cartel locations and had an extensive list of property owned by Mr Rose’s syndicate - more than Nathan could have imagined. 

• A highly secure property in the gated Granger Bay complex
• Real estate within the Zarc
• A private hotel suite on the Panama Rose
• Safe-houses on the Raft
• Hidden depots in the Suicide District
• Rose is an investor in the T-K Tower
• Owns the relocated De Waal Park stadium via offshore shells
• Owns the Storm nightclub
• Owns the Cape Royale Hotel

Nathan concluded that the stolen exo-wombs could be stashed in any of those locations.

Dave had managed to 3D-print another couple of counterfeit SMGs overnight, and is awaiting delivery of more FDM printers, so he can increase production. 

Later in the day, gathering at the Radisson (where Natasha is staying, thanks to a well performed hack of the booking system), the group decided to just go straight to Marimba’s.

[GM Note: I did not expect this quite so soon, but thankfully I was well prepared with notes on the bar, the NPCs and the surrounding area.]

They paid through the nose for a cab to take them to Bakoven. At night.

[GM Note: I described the area around Marimba’s. This was probably too much exposition early in the session, I could tell they were glazing over. They only seemed interested in the bar and probably expected to just stroll in and find Mamading.]

For the full Cape Point map, click here

The over-wrought exposition in question, lifted straight out of my notes:

• A blue PSA Casspir Mk V Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected APC cruises scrubland off the M61
• Massive structural breaches in the Bakoven geodesic let in light and channel the wind, whipping up columns of dust
• A ruined factory - what’s left of the walls is covered in bright, angry graffiti - pack of feral dogs
• Area of parched wasteland, a group of dust-covered kids with shoulder holsters, noisily playing football
• Recently burned-out taxi, riddled with bullet holes
• Crumbling Incredible Connection computer store, repurposed as a makeshift home, family washing clothes in plastic drums
• Small decaying church with a capsule hotel glommed onto one side of it’s exterior, rusty scaffolding supports the other side
• Low rent housing blocks, obscured by multiple generators and solar panel arrays, and plastic sheeting greenhouses
• Busy clinic operating out of several combined shipping containers, with sickly local poor queuing onto the fractured streets
• Lilting xhosa-trance music coming from Marimba’s bar, which sits inside the shell of a former Lucky Dragon
• Nearby, on the coast, off the M6 south-west of the Bakoven geodesic, squats the semi-submerged industrial leviathan that is the Koeël Bay Desalination Plant.

[Yeah, a little too much.]

With no fucking about, they went straight inside and directly to the bar and ordered drinks - five warm beers scooped out of a 25 litre plastic drum. Dave also ordered the peri-peri chicken he could smell from outside. Then, Nathan asked the barman (Marimba himself) about Mamading. Marimba was guarded. Nathan insisted he just wanted to bring Mamading some business. The barman seemed bemused at this brass-necked, wealthy-looking pommie in his bar. A solo or two seemed to be paying the group close attention now.

One of the solos, Terrence Van Stratten, an ally of Mamadings, demanded to know what the players wanted with the fixer, his CG-13 assault rifle openly on the table. They explained again, taking an instant dislike to Terry.

[GM Note: I’m glad they disliked Terry, as I played him like an obnoxious prick. The two solo PCs, Natasha and Anna, wanted to kill him right there, after he suggested they were joy girls and told told them what he’d like to do with them. It got tense to the point where I thought they were going to gun him down, but the situation calmed. Not sure if they were intimidated by him (or the presence of other obvious solos in the bar) or if it was self-control on their part.]

Nathan managed to slip some euro Terry’s way and the nutcase agreed to shoot a text message to Mamading about doing business with Nathan Zero. And then they waited.

Eventually, Mamading shows up, with a vanguard of members from the Cortical Dogs gang. The two fixers drank together and discussed the possibility of supplying counterfeit Minami 10s into the district. Mamading wasn’t interested, politely declined, gave Nathan a card, and left Marimba’s. About 10 minutes later, the players called a cab, paid even more money for it than last time, and returned to the bar in the Radisson.

By midnight, Dave had run a trace on the number on Mamading’s card, located the cell phone and tracked it’s movements. It left the Bakoven geodesic, heading north. It took a 15 minute stop in Sea Point, before continuing north then east into Cape Town and stopping at the Westin Grand Quays hotel. Dave’s low-grade AI kept a tab on the signal while he went back to printing guns.

Around 7am, the team ask Dave to check the cell phone’s location - it’s still at the Westin. Dave performs a second sweep for communications, and pings two other signals in close proximity. He elects to monitor and wait.

At 9am the two unidentified signals in the hotel begin to move through the building. The cell phone remains where it has been all night. In a hacked Enterprice rent-a-car, Anna and Natasha race to the hotel to get eyes-on.

They see two working girls waiting for a car outside the hotel. Dave confirms that they are the source of the signals. When the two girls climb into the back of a limo, the two solos decide to follow. Eventually, the limo pulls into the carpark adjacent to Troika. The girls exit the vehicle, and enter the bar. Dave knows the signals have ascended a flight of stairs.

Nathan makes a call to Shamir Globov, their current employer, and asks him whether he knows that two girls have just left their target (Mamading) and headed to Troika. Globov grudgingly explains his side business in escorts, and that the girls are RFID tagged, hence the signals. He agrees to let Nathan swing by Troika and talk to the two ladies.

Dave looks into the location in Sea Point visited by Mamading. He triangulates to an address and does a Library Search to find a registered occupant or owner. He discovers that the current occupant is someone called Klaus Diamond. Another (very successful) Library Search reveals Klaus to be an enforcer for the Njombo cartel, having done time in Pollsmoor. He passes this information to Nathan and the others.

He then checks on Mamading’s phone. The signal is moving through the Westin. Looks like their man is leaving. Infiltrating his phone, Dave discovers he has just called a cab company. Anna and Natasha race back towards the hotel to try and follow Mamading’s taxi.

Following the cab north-west, the group try to decide on a course of action. Dave jacks in and checks the cab for a vehicle link signal, and finds one. He starts to hack into it. In the meantime, Anna and Natasha are closing in on the yellow MPV, in their fraudulently obtained electric sedan. Dave successfully infiltrates the vehicle and looks for the engine management system. Finding it, he easily convinces the LAN that their is an engine fault, the taxi then drops into limp mode. The driver steers it smoothly off the road and onto a lay-by, and comes to a halt. Natasha pulls over behind the cab. The two solos get out of the car.

Dave manages to stop the cabbie from radioing the office, by encrypting the cabs comms, rendering them useless. The driver notices the two women approaching his cab on either side, and pulls a boxy SMG from the glove box. Mamading sits in the back, looking confused. The driver shows he is armed when Anna gets to the driver’s window. Natasha taps on the passenger side with her two handguns. He looks at her and back to Anna, who has now produced a bulky submachine gun. The cabbie sighs, placing his SMG on his lap. Anna orders Mamading to get out. He slides over to the opposite side, sees Natasha, and slides back again. He gets out and Anna orders him to get into their car. Mamading complies.

[GM Note: I was gobsmacked that they didn’t pat him down. He had a Czar Skorpion 5mm SMG in a shoulder holster. They have him in their car, but he’s still armed. I look forward to him using it…]

They drive the fixer over to a ruined warehouse in Link Town, where Nathan and Dave are waiting for them. They get him out of the car and… pat him down [dammit], taking his gun, his phone and his wallet. Anna points a bigger gun at Mamading while Nathan questions him. “Indescribable pain, or answers. Your choice.”

He reveals the following [he knows more, but this is what they got]:

• He has been contracted by Mr Rose himself to bring in the Disposable Boys gang, for protection, prior to the theft
• The Disposable Boys run a large chunk of Tamboers Kloof
• He has been cutting a deal with Mabuki Njombo’s cartel, who are interested in purchasing the exo-wombs
• He knows the Njombos have approached the representatives of a Namibian warlord called Angel Michael - possible chain?
• He’s more afraid of Mr Rose, the Njombos and the Namibian paramilitaries, than he is of the Russians

Dave records the entirety of the conversation. Nathan puts a grand in Mamading’s wallet and tells him he’s just been paid for his information. And that Mr Rose and co aren’t going to be happy about that. Nathan insists he report to him. The fixer shrugs, takes the wallet and his phone, and asks for his Skorpion back. Anna removes the bullets and hands it to him. “Really?” says Mamading. He is then driven to District Six and let out.

The group then meet up at the Radisson hotel to discuss what happens next.

[GM Note: I so could’ve done this better. The scene in Marimba’s bar was drawn out and felt awkward, with no flow. But it served it’s purpose. They seemed to enjoy jackrolling the taxi - probably as it was a more proactive initiative and had a good ‘beat’. I sort of lost it again when they questioned Mamading (I was tired, it was late) and I think he should’ve offered more resistance. BUT. He’s still alive and they let him go, so I can work with that. 

I think I’ll have him pay Terry to eliminate Nathan, and he’ll probably warn the Disposable Boys to expect company. I figure he’ll keep this info from the Rose cartel for now.] 

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Session Recap | Cape Point 2030

I don't usually do session recaps, but a few people have asked me about what's going on in my campaign. With the slow agonising death of G+, I thought I'd give it a try here at the Archive.


Friday night's trip to 2030s Cape Town was all about getting my GMing ducks in a row.
The PCs:
Nathan Zero, fixer and CEO of start-up Charon Global (Shaun)
Vijay Ravinder Hazari, hacker and prowler (James)
Hydraulic Dave, morbidly obese techie/drone wrangler (Craig)
Anna Zone, psychotic teenage clone solo (Graham)
Natasha Black, gender-morphing solo/assassin (John)
After last week's assassination of Network 54 employee, Keira Aspinall, in the Horizonville MPZ, the players met with their client's PA, Innocent Jones, a statuesque African-American woman with Paris runway looks, their payment smoothly transferred through Charon's accounts.
Nathan later met a number of fixers at The Athenaeum club, to purchase several proxy IDs for Natasha, ordered some mil-spec hardware for the solos, and got Vijay an in with an online software dealer. Also added some new connections to his growing roster. Many of these fixers have noticed an increase in arms dealing and mercenary contracting, implying something is going down in the city. Everyone's on edge.
Dave finally had some time to work on some programs for his drone stable, and to work on the DRM-cracked schematics for his 3D-printed, counterfeit Minami 10s (to be printed in toy gun green). Fixers are approached to sell them in to the townships when they're ready.
Natasha was summoned to the run down Devil's Peak microcology projects to see the mysterious Nana Dharma, who appears to be a petite Tibetan geriatric in layers of mismatched clothes, holding court amongst the banks of servers, base units, monitors and cables that fill her cramped, hot apartment. Dharma seems to know things about Natasha even Natasha doesn't know. She looks to be some sort of information broker and an accomplished hacker. The crone hints at a coming war and suggests Natasha choose a side. Natasha is not convinced. Members of the Devil's Peak Daddies gang seem to loyally protect the aged hacker.
The following day Vijay meets up with hacktivist PhreakWorm at the outlandish Negativland cosplay VR forum, presenting as a hazy blur. PhreakWorm is tricked out as a sexy medusa, surrounded by a harem of gimp guards in glossy latex. Vijay finds this show a little uncomfortable. Despite this, he makes a deal with Phreak to store some data in one of their cloud servers, to be released in the event his biomonitor flatlines for over 24 hours. This data could be a problem for the other PCs, if it gets out. PhreakWorm humours Vijay and takes a few grand for holding this info. They now have a link to Vijay's biomonitor too.
Mysterious agent, William Blake, approaches Natasha, Anna and Vijay within the space of a few hours. Blake was active back when they were in London, but they were unsure of his affiliation. Turns out he's working for some sort of AI collective, which troubles the group. He's trying to get them onside. None of the players trust him, especially after talks about various forms of leverage.
The team then gather in the main restaurant at The Radisson Hotel to discuss plans. They employ the privacy screens available there (white noise generators and signal blockers). They agree that Blake may be a problem going forward, and that perhaps Dharma could find out more about him. Anna just wants to execute him and damn the consequences. They desperately try to talk her out of it (for now). She just shrugs.
Later, Nathan and Anna meet one of the fixer's facemen, Koshka Nine, at a bar called Troika. She has a client in need of a team to recover some stolen property. If the team agree to meet the client for a more detailed brief, she wants a 20% cut of the negotiated fee. Nathan manages to get her down to 15%. She agrees to set up the meeting. Some of the clientele of the bar seem to recognise Anna, but she's not sure why.
The meet is arranged for later that evening. Nathan needs to be at a private Sea Point beach at 9pm. The fixer decides to take Natasha with him, just in case. She dresses alluringly, and alters her hair into a shocking pink bob. The beach is well guarded, with perimeter drones and solos in black jackets and beanie hats with A-80s on show. A sleek speedboat lies at anchor off a short jetty.
The speedboat takes Nathan and Natasha out, about half a mile west and into the pitch dark. Ahead they can see lights, and as they close, they see a 107m yacht, grey and white polymer hull and black sails, with more armed men on deck. The yacht is named Fate Amenable To Change.
Climbing aboard, they are escorted below decks into an opulent parlour decorated in a decadent tsarist chic. There's a scent of cigars and perfume, and Dark Side of the Moon plays in the background. Here they meet the aristocratic Shamir Globov, head of the kombinat in the Hub, his favourite mistress, the eccentric Alena Morozov, and a weaselly-looking flesh-pedlar called Porphyry. Globov offers Nathan and Natasha a 60 year old cognac. Alena asks after Koshka, but calls her Katarina. She asks Nathan to get the girl to call her. Then it's down to business.
One of Porphyry's storage areas on Atlantia was robbed three nights ago. Globov describes the merchandise as 'illegal, but viable, live collateral', contained in a number of exo-wombs. He suspects the involvement of the Rose cartel and the Yakuza, but then he thinks everything is masterminded by the Yakuza. He's had a tip-off that a fixer called Mamading knows who's involved and he suggest the PCs start with him. Nathan agrees a fee of 20k, with a promise of a bonus if they can uncover any possible leak in Globov's organisation.
Back on the mainland they discover Porphyry knows Anna (he smuggled her and her twin out of a Haruna lab in Romania and into London). Natasha warns Anna that he's in the city. Anna vows to kill him when this is over.
Nathan tasks his network with searching for any information on the fixer Mamading, as well as possible locations or businesses which the Rose cartel might use to stash contraband. He then visits Dharma and discovers that Mamading is often seen at Marimba's bar in Bakoven; he's well liked and well protected there. She also tells him that Mamading has recently been in contact with both the Rose and Njombo cartels. Nathan now owes Dharma some sort of favour, to be specified later. He then goes home to Bantry Bay and gets drunk.
Vijay agrees to meet Blake at the House of Blue Lights, where they can talk securely. He commits to siding with Blake in his hunt for the group known as the Aleph, and promises to help with disinformation to the authorities, such as the PSA, the Intelligence Directorate and Protocol. Uneasy, he then heads home to his grotty little apartment in Oranjezicht, in the shadow of the geodesic.